Best Design Trends of Modern & Productive Offices

Office

Over 85 percent of office workers say the design of their workplace is important. Yet less than half report its current design meets or enhances their office space productivity. These aren’t great statistics if you’re a manager or director aiming to retain talent, keep morale high and foster organizational growth. Windowless workrooms, bland fluorescent lights and rows of static, immobile desks — they’re probably not helping you get you there.

Those looking to merge form with function have many creative office design ideas and layouts to adopt to break the mundane. Better yet, these modern office concepts and cool interiors pair with keen psychological benefits that’ll boost employee creativity, engagement and efficiency — and overall workplace enjoyment. Let’s look at the top office trends of 2018.

1. Mood-Hacking Color Schemes in Strategic Office Areas

Branded color schemes are relevant, especially for consumer-facing collateral like your website, mobile apps and product packaging. Brand colors are pertinent to specific areas in the office as well, with companies opting to display them at reception, entry points or in conference rooms where outside vendors and important meetings are held.

Yet an office that sticks to only a handful of branded shades is one that ignores the scientific effects of color on employee mood, behavior and productivity. Indeed, it is far more psychologically beneficial to incorporate the full spectrum of colors within strategic office spaces where that color’s emotional trigger meets the space’s intended function.

Mood-Hacking Colors

Here’s how to incorporate strategic color schemes in your office:

  • Blues work best in office areas where communication, level-headedness and cool decisiveness are key. It’s great for formal as well as informal meeting rooms, and within private workstations where the employee can remain calm, confident and focused on their work.
  • Reds are bold and powerful and have both mental and physiological effects on the individual. Offices with accents in red are best used in high-energy, high-collaborative spaces.
  • Greens are calming and securing. They harken to natural elements and make employees feel less anxious and overworked. Allot green in spaces that are purposefully laid back, such as break rooms, cafeterias, employee lounges or coffee and snack stations to amplify the effects of time spent there.
  • Yellows and oranges are perceived as fun, active colors. They do not instill feelings of competition or aggression but rather evoke lightness, airiness and even trustworthiness. Oranges and yellows are particularly attractive for “filler” or transition spaces. Think hallways and walkways where employees can subconsciously benefit from these boosts.

2. Activity-Based Layouts With Unassigned Seating

The next significant shift in creative office layout trends looks to move beyond traditional and open-floor plans alike. Activity-based workstations (ABW) take the best of both these worlds, creating tomorrow’s office iteration where employees aren’t consigned to static desks or cubicles but instead work in environments that are most intuitive and productive for them based on their current task.

ABW layouts that cater to employee workstation freedom are not only shown to promote a more flexible work culture, but they also curate feelings of agency and ownership in the workers themselves, who report higher levels of workplace environment satisfaction and productivity when allowed more versatile office usage.

Here’s how to incorporate activity-based layouts in your office:

  • Unassigned open spaces: More and more modern office design concepts will be tailored toward open workstations — areas where any employee can sit down, open their laptop and dive into work. These will run from traditional to inventive, from tables and desks to benches, bean bags, lounge chairs and couches. The more creative yet still functional, the better.
  • Unassigned private or individual stations: Stand-alone offices like the Snapcab® Pod S provide a quintessential way to lend employees quiet, individual workspaces when they need them, removed from surrounding distractions and buffered from noise.
  • A mix of formal and informal breakout spaces: Rather than relegate team meetings to the same conference room, the best office design plans will look for ways to incorporate versatile seating and furniture into cross-functional spaces. These can be worked organically into an open floor plan using mobile breakout units, unique partitions or added into traditional rooms.

3. Ambient, Natural Lighting Complemented by Diverse Specialty Fixtures

When people picture an office space, too many still conjure up images of endless rows of cubicle desks, lit by similarly linear overhead fluorescent lights. Yet there is hardly anything modern — or anything stimulating — about these traditional fixtures.

The productivity-enhancing effects of natural light are well documented in the workplace. Sunshine simultaneously boosts levels of happiness and decreases feelings of stress or anxiety. The most contemporary workspaces maximize this with floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of glass partitions replacing solid walls, all to allow natural light to permeate as freely as possible.

Modern office design ideas for small spaces can also help amplify current natural lighting. Install mirrors or glossy, reflective surfaces to help bounce light, especially in small rooms or corners. This will help them look bigger and brighter without having to do expensive window replacements.

Here are some creative, contemporary lights to incorporate in your office:

  • Cove lighting: Linear lighting built into raised recessed ceilings are incredibly trendy and eye-catching.
  • Spotlights: Quirky and decorative installations that offices use to highlight art, display cases and other expressive features.
  • Pendant lighting: Hanging lights can be the focal point of the room, using aesthetic suspensions that illuminate objects or areas directly below.
  • Track lighting: Lights are mounted to a ceiling track and can extend across large swaths of space, including spacious conference rooms, hallways and open floor plans.
  • Pay attention to warm and cool light rays: Warmer light fixtures, like incandescent, can give a candlelight-like quality to the rooms they power, especially if the color scheme of that room is equally warm. Today’s LED light fixtures aim to replicate natural sunlight as much as possible and balance cool blue light with a warmer spectrum.

4. Outdoor Patios, Terraces and Employee-Lounge Rooftops

While on the topic of natural light, why not take its benefits to the next level with designated outdoor spaces for your employees?

Indeed, a workforce with access to gardens and outdoor, open-air green spaces report reinvigorated levels of energy after sitting in them for as little as five minutes. This is because natural sunlight and fresh air stimulate the pineal gland in our brain, which interprets light levels and is responsible in part for things like mood stability and mental acuity. Studies have shown that employees who sit closer to windows or have views of outdoor patios and terraces are even less likely to call in sick. 

Simply put, any way you can get your employees outdoors is a benefit to your bottom line.

outdoor workplace

Here are a few ways to incorporate outdoor spaces at your office:

  • A deck or patio with plenty of seating variety
  • Outdoor terraces, also with accompanying seating
  • An office garden, perhaps even one growing produce for employees
  • A rooftop lounge with some greenery and shade
  • Outdoor dining options, even something as simple as a picnic table

5. Biophilic Office Design Features

One of the best office layout and interior trends of 2018 revolves around biophilic features. Now, don’t let the fancy name intimidate you. Biophilic design’s thesis is simple — create as much overlap between outdoor and indoor environments as possible to curate natural, green-centric offices — and all its related productivity and wellness benefits.

While biophilic design relies heavily on plants and greenery, it also lends itself to an office space’s arrangement and overall form. Think elements like water features to designate separate departments in an open-concept office or rock slats positioned as partitions instead of cubicles or half-walls.

Your employees will reap the rewards. Environmental psychology studies have shown that proximity to biophilic features in an office boosts employee well-being, creativity and positivity by 15 percent and productivity by six percent. Not bad for some rocks and trees.

Here’s how to incorporate biophilic design in your office:

  • Fewer straight lines and more curves in walls, staircases, landings and walkways
  • “Living” walls, especially with moss or ferns
  • Abundant and diverse planters
  • Hanging gardens
  • Rock gardens or other stone installations
  • Ponds or similar water features

6. Quirky, Eclectic and Surprising Furniture

Consider why many people work from coffee shops or enjoy the ambiance of a hotel lobby or lounge. It’s not because these places serve tasty drinks, though they do that too. It’s because their interiors are visually styled to match a spirited aesthetic, most prominently with their choices and range of furniture. 

The best current office design trends have seen a major shift away from linear rows of desks and tables. Instead, the secret to trendy furniture in your office is to show some personality. Think differing pieces done in various upholsteries, textures and fabrics lining office furnishings, fabricated in different shapes and forms to catch the eye and entice a sit. Not everything has to be matchy-matchy, either, displaying only fabrics in one or two “expected” branded colors.

Here’s how to incorporate furniture with personality in your office:

  • Seating: Consider variety first — couches, armchairs, wobble chairs, cushions, mats, swing chairs, bar stools and even hammocks in open spaces, private stations and meeting rooms alike.
  • Surfaces: Circular and rectangle tables, standing desks, sitting desks, coffee and end tables, mixed and matched for an eclectic and cozy office.
  • Shelving: Shelving works both on walls and as walls or fabricated into creative office partitions. They can be built from different materials and installed as hanging, mounted or stand-alone units.
  • Functional furniture: Coat racks, bike racks, filing cabinets, tables, benches and more — the more creative you can get, the better.

7. Private and Collaborative Sound-Centric Spaces

The uptick in open-office floor plans does increase collaboration and a sense of employee camaraderie in today’s workplace layouts. But it comes at a cost — namely noise levels.

Office workers routinely cite they want a balance between private, quiet workspaces and open, relaxed interpersonal ones. Striking that office sound balance is a crucial design question for contemporary office layout, as they aim to maximize floor space without over-cramming, over-cluttering or building unused, static rooms filled with impractical furniture.

The best office layout for productivity is, therefore, one whose furniture and floor plan work together to solve the problem. It creates the spatial flexibility employees crave while reducing the noise and distractions that modern offices court.

Here’s how to incorporate diverse, flexible work stations into your office without noise or clutter:

  • SnapCab Pods: With three sizes meant to accommodate three different work-station types, Pods balance the flexibility with the productivity needed in a contemporary office. Pod S can work as individual or private workstations, while Pod M and Pod L units are easily configurable as stand-alone offices or breakout meeting rooms. Plus, each Pod size is mobile and contains sound-absorbing acoustic felt to decrease noise distractions further.
  • SnapCab Portals: SnapCab Portals aim to bring office flexibility to a single surface. Featuring Corning® Gorilla® Glass, these multi-media walls combine a television with a whiteboard so you can work, write, present and communicate all from one contemporary, collaborative surface.

8. Out-of-the-Box Dividers and Partitions

Wall partitions strike an important psychological balance in productive office layouts — they allow workers privacy and properly designated areas for their work types yet still maintain a sense of openness and ease. Rather than segment departments by rooms, walls or cubicles, dividers and partitions keep layouts welcoming without sacrificing a little functional structure.

Modern office interior design spruces up this concept by swapping unique dividing features with old static ones. These creative dividers and partitions are also one of the most achievable design trends out there. Small and medium-sized operations alike can easily install stylish partitions beyond the average frosted glass, meaning expensive renovations or upgrades are unnecessary.

Partitions

9. Home-Like Touches

In a final contemporary design twist, offices are looking for more ways to add “homey” touches to their workspaces. After all, when people spend nearly a third of their time at work, it makes sense to bridge the familiar with the functional and the comfortable with the corporate.

The benefits of adding home-like design touches to the office are dynamic. Cozy decor and warm and personalized pops reduce levels of stress, fatigue and anxiousness while decreasing office issues like absenteeism. It also encourages employees to feel as if they have more ownership of a space since it comes tailored to making them feel more relaxed.

Adding home-like decor is especially important in collaborative spaces like small conference rooms, breakout areas and recreational or break rooms, if you have them. You want these office areas to curate a sense of ease and collaboration, especially in those spaces that are fundamentally meant to recharge. This is a lot harder to do if you have bland, mundane, office-centric furniture and decorations.home like touches

Here’s how to incorporate home-like decor in your office:

  • Task lighting, with a unique mix of desk and floor lamps
  • Rugs
  • Throw pillows
  • End tables
  • Window shades and curtains
  • Plants
  • A mix of carpet and wood floors
  • A designated, separate communal kitchen or dining space — not just a dirty microwave shoved in a corner

Office Designs and Layouts That Balance Productivity and Personality — Plus Benefit Your Bottom Line

SnapCab has been making spatial solutions for the modern productive office for over 20 years, and we want yours to be a part of the story.

Today’s open offices simply don’t have to pick between form and function. With our Pods and Portals, you get the full range of productivity-enhancing workspaces outfitted with collaborative, creative technology plus the aesthetic touches your staffers crave.

Reach out to us today. We’d love to discuss how Pods and Portals can bring modern office design and layout trends to your space without compromising employee efficiency or brand integrity.